Wednesday, January 13, 2010

Comelec assures upholding of human rights in checkpoints

CAGAYAN de Oro City – At least one (1) Comelec check point will be established in each city / municipality to effectively implement the firearms ban during the election period, January 10 up to June 9, 2010.

Thus explained Atty. Renato A. Magbutay, Regional Elections Director of region 10, during a recent Command Conference of the Armed Forces of the Philippines, Philippine National Police and the Commission of Elections (AFP-PNP-Comelec) held in Camp Alagar, this city.

He said pursuant to Comelec Resolution No, 8725, promulgated last Dec. 23, there is a need to ensure that proper search procedures and seizures at these checkpoints do not violate the civil, political and human rights of the citizens.

However, additional checkpoints may be established at the discretion of the highest ranking official of the AFP or PNP, in consultation with the city / municipality Election Officer (EO), in their respective areas of jurisdiction, and only in places which are well lighted.

Meanwhile, Magbutay said any search at any Comelec checkpoint must be made only by members of the AFP or PNP unit designated to man the same.

As a rule, a valid search must be authorized by a search warrant duly issued by an appropriate authority. However, a warrantless search can be made in the following cases:

It should be done in a manner which will impose minimum inconvenience upon the person or persons so searched, to the end that the persons’ civil, political and human rights are not violated.

Thus, any person arrested at a Comelec checkpoint must be treated humanely and with utmost respect for his / her constitutional rights and must be informed of the following:

To remain silent and be informed that anything he says may be used against him in court, to have competent and independent counsel, preferably of his own choice and to be released from detention if no charges have been filed against him 18 hours from arrest.

Likewise, any person arrested at a Comelec checkpoint, including the confiscated weapon, ammunition and material, must be turned over to the nearest law enforcement station or office together with the corresponding affidavit/s of arrest for proper action.

The chief of police / detachment commander concerned shall then conduct a preliminary examination and submit the results, thereof, to the Provincial / City Prosecutor for preliminary investigation, copy furnished the Comelec Law Department, EO and their respective operations centers, Magbutay, also said. (Rutchie Cabahug-Aguhob)


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